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More Exceptional C++: 40 New Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8x9-1/4
  • Pages: 304
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-70434-X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-70434-1

Organized in a practical problem-and-solution format, More Exceptional C++ picks up where the widely acclaimed Exceptional C++ leaves off, providing successful strategies for solving real-world problems in C++. Drawing from years of in-the-trenches experience, Herb Sutter provides tested techniques and practical solutions for programmers designing modern software systems with C++, from small projects to enterprise applications.

Built around forty programming puzzles, More Exceptional C++ helps you understand the rules and issues critical to successful software design and development in C++. New themes included in this sequel place a strong emphasis on generic programming, memory management, and using the C++ standard library, including coverage of important techniques like traits and predicates. Also included are guidelines and considerations to remember when using standard containers and algorithms--topics rarely covered in-depth in other sources.

Readers will find solutions to such important questions as:
  • What pitfalls might you encounter when using std::map and std::set, and how can you safely avoid them?
  • What kinds of predicates are safe to use with the STL, what kinds aren't, and why?
  • What techniques are available for writing powerful generic template code that can change its own behavior based on the capabilities of the types it's given to work with?
  • When and how should you optimize your code? Why can (and do) fancy optimizations get us into trouble? And how can some of these answers change if you're writing multithread-safe code?
  • Does exception safety affect class design, or can it be retrofitted in as an afterthought?
  • How can you avoid the Siamese Twin problem when combining inheritance-based libraries from different vendors?
  • How can you safely use auto_ptr, and then use common design patterns to adapt it to avoid common pitfalls? Can you use auto_ptr as a class member? What must you know before you elect to use it that way?
  • Plus one of the most frequently recurring questions about modern C++: When and how should you use namespaces, anyway?

A must-have for the serious programmer, More Exceptional C++ provides a thorough and pragmatic understanding of the language while showing you how to write exceptional code in C++.


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Table of Contents



Generic Programming and the C++ Standard Library.

Item 1: Switching Streams (2 / 10).

Item 2: Predicates, Part 1: What remove() Removes (4 / 10).

Item 3: Predicates, Part 2: Matters of State (7 / 10).

Item 4: Extensible Templates: Via Inheritance or Traits? (7 / 10).

Item 5: Typename (7 / 10).

Item 6: Containers, Pointers, and Containers That Aren't (5 / 10).

Item 7: Using Vector and Deque (3 / 10).

Item 8: Using Set and Map (5 / 10).

Item 9: Equivalent Code? (5 / 10).

Item 10: Template Specialization and Overloading (6 / 10).

Item 11: Mastermind (8 / 10).

Optimization and Performance.

Item 12: Inline (4 / 10).

Item 13: Lazy Optimization, Part 1: A Plain Old String (2 / 10).

Item 14: Lazy Optimization, Part 2: Introducing Laziness (3 / 10).

Item 15: Lazy Optimization, Part 3: Iterators and References (6 / 10).

Item 16: Lazy Optimization, Part 4: Multi-Threaded Environments (8 / 10).

Exception Safety Issues and Techniques.

Item 17: Constructor Failures, Part 1: Object Lifetimes (4 / 10).

Item 18: Constructor Failures, Part 2: Absorption? (7 / 10).

Item 19: Uncaught Exceptions (6 / 10).

Item 20: An Unmanaged Pointer Problem, Part 1: Parameter Evaluation (6 / 10).

Item 21: An Unmanaged Pointer Problem, Part 2: What About auto_ptr? (8 / 10).

Item 22: Exception-Safe Class Design, Part 1: Copy Assignment (7 / 10).

Item 23: Exception-Safe Class Design, Part 2: Inheritance (6 / 10).

Inheritance and Polymorphism.

Item 24: Why Multiple Inheritance? (6 / 10).

Item 25: Emulating Multiple Inheritance (5 / 10).

Item 26: Multiple Inheritance and the Siamese Twin Problem (4 / 10).

Item 27: (Im)pure Virtual Functions (7 / 10).

Item 28: Controlled Polymorphism (3 / 10).

Memory and Resource Management.

Item 29: Using auto_ptr (5 / 10).

Item 30: Smart Pointer Members, Part 1: A Problem with auto_ptr (5 / 10).

Item 31: Smart Pointer Members, Part 2: Toward a ValuePtr (6 / 10).

Free Functions and Macros.

Item 32: Recursive Declarations (6 / 10).

Item 33: Simulating Nested Functions (5 / 10).

Item 34: Preprocessor Macros (4 / 10).

Item 35: #Definition (4 / 10).

Miscellaneous Topics.

Item 36: Initialization (3 / 10).

Item 37: Forward Declarations (3 / 10).

Item 38: Typedef (3 / 10).

Item 39: Namespaces, Part 1: Using-Declarations and Using-Directives (2 / 10).

Item 40: Namespaces, Part 2: Migrating to Namespaces (4 / 10).



Appendix A. Optimizations That Aren't (In a Multithreaded World).

Appendix B. Test Results for Single- versus Multi-Thread-Safe String Implementations.


Index. 020170434XT07022001


The Greek philosopher Socrates taught by asking his students questions--questions designed to guide them and help them draw conclusions from what they already knew, and to show them how the things they were learning related to each other and to their existing knowledge. This method has become so famous that we now call it the "Socratic method." From our point of view as students, Socrates' approach involves us, makes us think, and helps us relate and apply what we already know to new information.

This book takes a page from Socrates, as did its predecessor, Exceptional C++ Sutter00. It assumes you're involved in some aspect of writing production C++ software today, and uses a question-answer format to teach you how to make effective use of standard C++ and its standard library with a particular focus on sound software engineering in modern C++. Many of the problems are drawn directly from experiences I and others have encountered while working with production C++ code. The goal of the questions is to help you draw conclusions from things you already know as well as things you've just learned, and to show how they interrelate. The puzzles will show how to reason about C++ design and programming issues--some of them common issues, some not so common; some of them plain issues, some more esoteric; and a couple because, well, just because they're fun.

This book is about all aspects of C++. I don't mean to say that it touches on every detail of C++--that would require many more pages--but rather that it draws from the wide palette of the C++ language and library features to show how apparently unrelated items can be used together to synthesize novel solutions to common problems. It also shows how apparently unrelated parts of the palette interrelate on their own, even when you don't want them to, and what to do about it. You will find material here about templates and namespaces, exceptions and inheritance, solid class design and design patterns, generic programming and macro magic--and not just as randomized tidbits, but as cohesive Items showing the interrelationships among all of these parts of modern C++.

What's "More?"

More Exceptional C++ continues where Exceptional C++ left off. This book follows in the tradition of the first: It delivers new material, organized in bite-sized Items and grouped into themed sections. Readers of the first book will find some familiar section themes, now including new material, such as exception safety, generic programming, and memory management techniques. The two books overlap in structure and theme, not in content.

Where else does More Exceptional C++ differ? This book has a much stronger emphasis on generic programming and on using the C++ standard library effectively, including coverage of important techniques such as traits and predicates. Several Items provide in-depth looks at considerations to keep in mind when using the standard containers and algorithms; many of these considerations I've not seen covered elsewhere. There's a new section and two appendixes that focus on optimization in single- and multithreaded environments--issues that are now more than ever of practical consequence for development shops writing production code.

Versions of most Items originally appeared in Internet and magazine columns, particularly as Guru of the Week GotW issues #31 to 62, and as print columns and articles I've written for C/C++ Users Journal, Dr. Dobb's Journal, the former C++ Report, and other publications. The material in this book has been significantly revised, expanded, corrected, and updated since those initial versions, and this book (along with its de rigueur errata list available at www.gotw.ca) should be treated as the current and authoritative version of that original material.

What I Assume You Know

I expect that you already know the basics of C++. If you don't, start with a good C++ introduction and overview. Good choices are a classic tome like Bjarne Stroustrup's The C++ Programming Language Stroustrup00, or Stan Lippman and Josee Lajoie's C++ Primer, Third Edition Lippman98. Next, be sure to pick up a style guide such as Scott Meyers' classic Effective C++ books Meyers96 Meyers97. I find the browser-based CD version Meyers99 convenient and useful.

How to Read This Book

Each Item in this book is presented as a puzzle or problem, with an introductory header that resembles the following:

Item #: The Topic of This Puzzle
Difficulty: X

The topic tag and difficulty rating gives you a hint of what you're in for. Note that the difficulty rating is my subjective guess at how difficult I expect most people will find each problem, so you may well find that a "7" problem is easier for you than some "5" problem. Since writing Exceptional C++, I've regularly received e-mail saying that "Item #N is easier (or harder) than that!" It's common for different people to vote "easier!" and "harder!" for the same Item. Ratings are personal; any Item's actual difficulty for you really depends on your knowledge and experience and could be easier or harder for someone else. In most cases, though, you should find the rating to be a good rule-of-thumb guide to what to expect.

You might choose to read the whole book front to back; that's great, but you don't have to. You might decide to read all the Items in a section together because you're particularly interested in that section's topic; that's cool, too. Except where there are what I call a "miniseries" of related problems which you'll see designated as "Part 1," "Part 2," and so on, the Items are pretty independent, and you should feel free to jump around, following the many cross-references among the Items in the book, as well as some references to Exceptional C++. The only guidance I'll offer is that the miniseries are designed to be read consecutively as a group; other than that, the choice is yours.

Namespaces, Typename, References, and Other Conventions

I make quite a few recommendations in this book, and I won't give you guidelines that tell you to do something I don't already do myself. That includes what I do in my own example code throughout this book. I'll also bow to existing practice and modern style, even when it really makes no material difference.

On that note, a word about namespaces: In the code examples, if you see a using-directive at file scope in one example and at function scope in another example a few pages or Items later, there's no deeper reason than that's what felt right and aesthetically pleasing to me for that particular case; for the rationale, turn to Item 40. In the narrative text itself, I've chosen to qualify standard library names with std:: when I want to emphasize that it's the standard facility I'm talking about. Once that's established, I'll generally switch back to using the unqualified name.

When it comes to declaring template parameters, I sometimes come across people who think that writing class instead of typename is old-fashioned, even though there's no functional difference between the two and the standard itself uses class most everywhere. Purely for style, and to emphasize that this book is about today's modern C++, I've switched to using typename instead of class to declare template parameters. The only exception is one place in Item 33, where I quote directly from the standard; the standard says class, so I left it in there.

Unless I call something a "complete program," it's probably not. Remember that the code examples are usually just snippets or partial programs and aren't expected to compile in isolation. You'll usually have to provide some obvious scaffolding to make a complete program out of the snippet shown.

Finally, a word about URLs: On the Web, stuff moves. In particular, stuff I have no control over moves. That makes it a real pain to publish random Web URLs in a print book lest they become out of date before the book makes it to the printer's, never mind after it's been sitting on your desk for five years. When I reference other people's articles or Web sites in this book, I do it via a URL on my own Web site, www.gotw.ca, which I can control and which contains just a straight redirect to the real Web page. If you find that a link printed in this book no longer works, send me e-mail and tell me; I'll update that redirector to point to the new page's location (if I can find the page again) or to say that the page no longer exists (if I can't). Either way, this book's URLs will stay up-to-date despite the rigors of print media in an Internet world. Whew.

Herb Sutter
Toronto, June 2001



#define, see macros
#pragma, 218
A AboutToModify, 91-114
Abrahams, David, 138, 140, 142
accumulate, 77-78
ACE, 104
Adams, Douglas, reference to, 22
Adapter pattern, 179-180
advance, example use, 10
Alexandrescu, Andrei, 25, 271
Append, 86-103, 263-269

auto_ptr and, see auto_ptr, arrays and
vector and, see vector, C array and
zero-length, 177-178
Array, 65-68
assignment, templated, see template(s),
associative containers, see containers, associative
atomic integer operations, 107-114, 256-258, 269
auto_array, 178-179
auto_ptr, 135-148, 175-199
arrays and, 175-182
example use, 93
members, issues regarding, 148, 182-187
Pimpl Idiom and, see Pimpl Idiom, auto_ptr
swap and, 145
vector versus, 181-182
auto_ptr_new, 137-140
B basic_ios, 3-4
rdbuf, 3-4
basic_istream, 1-5
basic_ostream, 1-5, 20
basic_string, 20, 113, 195, 197
copy-on-write and, 259-260
see also copy-on-write
reputation for slowness undeserved, 113, 248
bazooka, const_cast, 58
Bester, Alfred, 55
bitset, 41, 43
bitvector, 43
vector and, see vector, vector<bool>
bpred, 11-12
buffer growth strategy, see String, growth strategy
C C array,
vector and, see vector, C array and
C/C++ Users Journal, x
C++ standard, the, 271
C++ Report, x
capacity, see vector, capacity
Cargill Widget Example, 141-149
char_traits, 5, 20, 195
<cheader> style, 237-238
ChoosePeg, 71-73, 76
ci_char_traits, alluded to, 5
cin, 2
Clamage, Steve, xii, 140
local, 207-209
nested, 207-209
Clone, 19-32, 193-199
Cloneable, 19, 25-29
ColorMatch, 77-79
Colossal Cave adventure, reference to, 22
Combination, 76
concurrency, see multithreading
conservation of energy, 93
const_cast, 53, 55, 57-58
Constraints, 24-28
exceptions, see exception(s), constructor
templated, see template(s), construction
use to contain requirements-enforcing code, 22-23
container requirements, 36-45
associative, see set; map
proxied, 41-45
taking pointers and references into, 38
vector<bool>, see vector, vector<bool>
containment, see delegation
conversion operators, see operator(s), conversion
copy, example use, 9, 87-88, 92-93
copy initialization, see initialization, direct versus copy
see also String, Optimized::String
basic_string and, 259-261
historically popular, 261
multithreading and, 104-114, 248, 253-269
mutating or possibly-mutating operations and, 251
optimizing allocation versus char copying, 259
sample timings of, 263-269
count, 79
CountColor, 72, 74
CountedPtr, 17-18
CountPlace, 71, 73
coupling, 151-153
cout, 2
COW, see copy-on-write
crashes, see intermittent crashes
CreateFrom, 194-199
Customer, 58
D Death, Dreaded Diamond of, 156
debugger, launching, see DieDieDie
forward, 226-228
recursive, 201-206
Decorator pattern, 170
Decrement, 18
deep copy, 108-109
see also copy-on-write
Del Rey, Lester, 55
array form and auto_ptr, 176-182
dependent names, 33
deque, 1, 46-53
deque<bool>, 45
derivation, see inheritance
use to contain requirements-enforcing code, 22-23
pre-destructor, 131
public versus virtual, 168-169
Dewhurst, Steve, xii
direct initialization, see initialization, direct versus copy
DieDieDie, 171-172
Dining Philosophers Problem, allusion to, 252
distance, example use, 10
double delete, examples of, 184
Dr. Dobb's Journal, x
Dreaded Diamond of Death, 156
dynamic_cast, example use of, 160-162
E ECHO, 1-2
effects, see also side effects
encapsulation, 5-6, 20
EnsureUnique, 256
equal_to, example use, 77
erase, 8, 46
iterators and, see iterator(s), validity
remove and, 8
see also vector, erase
Error, variant data representation using preprocessor, 217
expressions, order of evaluation of, see order of evaluation
constructor, 115-126
destructors and, 128, 130
safety guarantees, see exception safety, guarantees
thrown from base or member constructors, 116-126
exception safety,
assignment and, 142, 146
coupling and, 151-153
design and, 147-148
guarantees, 142
Swap and, 142
extensibility, 5-6
F find, 43
find_if, 12-17, 76
FindCustomer, 47
FlagNth, 7, 9-10, 15-17
FlagNthImpl, 16-17
flip, 42
food, see Dining Philosophers Problem
for_each, example use of, 72
forward declarations, see declarations, forward
forward iterators, see iterator(s), forward
FPDoubleInt, 202
French, gratuitous use of, x, 3, 77, 77, 245
virtual function accessibility control using, 172-174
front, 42
FuncPtr, 201-206
function try blocks, see try, function try blocks
functions, nested, see nested functions, simulating
G Gamma, Erich, 271
generate, example use of, 71, 76
GetError, 249, 251
GotW, see Guru of the Week
GreaterThan, 13
GreaterThanFive, 12
growth strategy for buffers, see String, growth
guarantees, exception safety, see exception safety, guarantees
Guru of the Week, x, 245, 271
H Haldeman, Joe, 55
Has-A, 149-153
HasClone, 24
header files,
<cheader> style, 237-238
Heinlein, Robert A., 55, 114
Helm, Richard, 271
Henney, Kevlin, xii, 150, 271
Hickin, John, 14
"holey array," 125
Holmes, Sherlock, reference to, 124
Hyslop, Jim, xii
I ifstream, example use, 3-4
IIITO, see Is-Implemented-In-Terms-Of
increment(ing), see operator(s), ++
Increment, 18
indigestion, compiler, 136
delegation versus, 149-153
multiple, 155-158
simulating, 159-166
Siamese Twin Problem, 162-166
requiring, 19-32
testing for, see also IsDerivedFrom
unnecessary use of, 149-153
virtual, 156
direct versus copy, 224-226
initializer lists,
dangers of resource acquisition and, 123
inline, 83-86
inner_product, 77
instantiated_type, 32-36
instantiation of templates, see template(s), instantiation
interface classes, 158
intermittent crashes, 250
IntAtomic-, see atomic integer operations
manipulating atomically, see atomic integer operations
Is-A, 149-153
see also Liskov Substitutability Principle (LSP)
IsAnyElementGreaterThanFive, 12-13
IsDerivedFrom, 25-29
Is-Implemented-In-Terms-Of, 149-153
IsOK, 118, 121
Is-Substitutable-For-A, 149-153
see also Liskov Substitutability Principle (LSP)
istream, see basic_istream
istream_with_assign, 2




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